SLSNZ IRB Nationals Paekakariki 2006
Saturday 1st April arrived at Paekakariki Beach to an announcement through the intercom that due to the cold water temperatures the officials were going to retire until it warmed up. April 1st, one up to Gums on the mike, announcements like this don't seem out of place just lately in the news or on TV. It's Like April 1st all year.

Back to the serious stuff, the event we have been waiting for all year, the show down of the iron crews in their/our rubber boats.  Paekakariki Saturday it was cold, no sun and with an onshore wind of 10 knots producing one meter choppy conditions.    Not big enough to get a good run at but big enough to wreck a good run if you took your eye off the ball. So there were few stray maneuvers - missed pick-ups and driverless boats, which can happen when the starters 303 signals the race start, all that practice and training is set in motion but flat out.
This is crunch time and it will catch the experienced out as we will see later.
Oddly enough a really "big surf" IRB event like there was at Kariotahi (Auckland Champs 2003) can have a settling effect on crews as this event was run in 3 to 4M big surf swells produced some thrilling races, but with no crew handling errors I saw.
It wasn't till after the racing was over that we found out that all the crews were Novices
That would account for the look of shear joy on faces of some returning teams. However Jim Coe's rescues/competitions exploits that took place in the long boats before ducks or jet boats came on the scene put the day's competitions into perspective.

The racing action is hotting up as we get into the semi finals, the wins and near wins are cheered and the disappointments shared by us all for the loses. It can take years to perfect the skills demonstrated by the top crews, and they are a sheer joy to watch even in flat water as the Sunday turned out to be.
The teams' event is always interesting and more difficult to get right and as with the other events it reflects true beach rescue situations that the IRB crews face.
Flat out driving is not the normal rescue mode of operating the IRBs obviously, but for IRB driver it makes for an exciting ride back to the beach one up with 30HP after
dropping the bowman out at the buoy.
So to Sunday and the sea is like a millpond, no wind but a lot warmer at 18Deg. Competing teams points score totals are announced so the screws go on making every point count in getting the medals and the trophies the teams have worked hard for.

The Duck TrophyThe racing carries on nonstop. Premier Assemble final Andrew cant get off the beach, the waters gone from under the boat having dragged it out to were it was at the starters gun, 5 second pass before there off but the rest of the crews have a huge lead and its 5th place instead of a meddle. Having blitzed the field in the Tube Rescue event on Saturday.Open teams event final Justin (Wainui) elects to go second driver but Chris and Jaron  (Fitzroy) pullout such a lead by taking the start (first driver) that Justin although closing rapidly on Fitzroy's second driver is unable to peg it back and misses his pick up.   I find this out in the clubhouse after it's all over. Thanks for that Russell, for the story and the beer. Check out the results on http://www.surflifesaving.org.nz/
Big thanks also to the host club the officials the tireless work teams, catering staff and all the other volunteer helpers and not forgetting the IRB lifeguards involve who made this another success competition, a warm fuzzes event. Where catching up with past IRB champions, crews, officials, supporters, meeting families, some now as competitors, and swapping tall stories, is well, just Cool.

Congratulations to all the Winners.

The new Arancia Trophy for top Premier IRB Champion crew went to Chris Scott and Jaron Mumby (Fitzroy), making them the first Four times NZ IRB Premier Champions.
The Old IRB Arancia Cup competed for every year since1980, Chris and Jaron won for
Opunake for the last three years equaling Craig Ashman and Ryan Street, also from Opunake, three wins 1995-1997.The old cups was retired to Surf House Wellington.

Bronze DucksNew Premier Champion Duck Trophy (resin bronze) story
It was found, or should we say it spotted us as this ducks eye followed me as we walked past a shop window at Henley-in-Arden in the UK late last year. We had to go back and look at "the" duck closer, surrounded with all its shop mates - dogs cats rabbits pigs, it must have been thinking to migrate somewhere warmer for the UK winter. And these two NZ travelers would do, all 5kgs of it. So much for traveling light.
Ode, Duck seemed to become invisible to airport security x-ray at Heathrow, if x-rayed it would have shown up, as it was only wrapped up in my luggage on the flight back to NZ. So much for security or bird flue. The airport security X-ray staff at Auckland when we flew down to Paekakariki a month latter didn't miss "Duck", and had a good laugh after checking it had no feathers or Flue.
We had to fly down of course; Trophy Duck wouldn't go by car.

Take care till the next IRB gathering.

John  & Chris